New Video – Fear is Over

Fear is Over Official Video

After my last two videos (To the Sky and My Own Way) which required a ton of pre-prouction and a 4-day shoots each at various locations I told myself the next video I made would be something very simple…

Fast forward a few months to when I had finished writing and recording “Fear is Over”, which I never had any plans of making a video for. One night the lyric “in this corner me, in the other corner – me” inspired a vision of me training in an old boxing gym for a big fight… with myself. I shelved the idea at first since it wasn’t exactly something that would be easy to pull off. But the vision kept coming back to me. I kept fighting it. A few nights later I googled “old boxing gym Los Angeles” just to see what came up. I found the place you see in the video. The rest as they say, is history.

I really did want to do something simple. It was not within my comfort zone to walk into a boxing club that had seen better days in an unfamiliar part of LA and ask about shooting a music video there. I had absolutely zero experience boxing, except for when I would prop up couch cushions and punch them after watching Rocky 4 when I was a kid. And I certainly didn’t want to get up at 5:00 am three times a week for a month and drive downtown through miserable morning LA traffic for training.

During the training I developed some kind of ankle injury which made it nearly impossible to jump rope and do some of the other drills that required any lateral movement. I also messed up my knee playing football on Thanksgiving, which was two weeks before the shoot. I had to wear a brace for the remainder of training. The pinky and ring fingers on both of my hands got so sore from hitting the heavy bag that I could barely make a fist at one point (and they still hurt). Then to top things off, I got the flu during the peak time I was supposed to be training.

It finally came time to shoot the video. All the equipment was loaded into the gym. The lights were all set up. The set dressed. Cameras rolling. But every time “action” was called, the lights would go out. Despite being assured that the building could handle the power required by the production, circuits kept blowing. Someone had to go rent a large generator so we could even make it through a single take. We lost half of the first day of a two-day shoot, which meant we wouldn’t have time to film 25% of the shots we had planned for the video. Adjustments were made. We kept going. Did the best we could with the circumstances.

Given the subject matter of the song, it was only fitting that it was a struggle, that it took a lot of faith to keep going when there were plenty of opportunities to give up. I remember one time at the gym when I was sick, pedaling one of those stationary cycles with “No Easy Way Out” from the Rocky soundtrack playing in my headphones. The sweat dripping off me was half workout sweat and half fever sweat. The image I saw looking in the mirror that day will be burned into memory for a long time, and the extra lessons of faith over fear learned while making this video will never be forgotten.

Here are some “Behind the Scenes” pics from the shoot.

Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot
Fear is Over video shoot


A Dark Day for the Dark Knight

Warning: unpopular opinion below.

No, I haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises. I did see The Dark Knight after hearing so much about how great it was. But I remember feeling worse for the wear. No matter how well-made a movie is, if it’s that dark and violent I just don’t leave feeling like it was a good experience.

Before I wrote this I did a little research to make sure that Rises was as violent as it’s predecessors, and I found that indeed it has “a disturbingly high body count (which) is achieved via massive explosions, kidnappings, neck breakings, shootings, and hand-to-hand combat. While there’s not a lot of actual blood, there’s tons of death and mass destruction.” Check.

After the Aurora theater mass murder the NBC group of networks (among others) pulled all trailers for The Dark Knight Rises because they felt it was inappropriate to have images of gun violence from the movie run alongside news stories about the real-life massacre. Warner Bros. pulled trailers for the upcoming movie Gangster Squad that showed gunmen shooting up a crowded movie theater. Hmmm….

Imagine there were fancy cameras in that Aurora theater. And a film crew. And some dramatic lighting. And a fog machine. Maybe someone to yell “action” before James Holmes came through the door in a gas mask with his arsenal. Imagine it was all caught on film from interesting angles and spiced up with some loud sound effects and thematic music. Would you pay $12 to go see it?

Why not? It’s the same thing we are flocking to theaters to see. “Cool” might as well mean “violent”. Most would say that they wouldn’t go see it because people actually died, not because of the violence itself. The violence itself is perfectly fine, as evidenced by the $249 million the movie raked in over the weekend (and the hundreds of millions more it will make in the coming weeks) despite being marred by a massacre and much of its advertising being pulled.

So why is popular entertainment filled with so much gratuitous violence? Does it have to be that way? If they made a Batman movie just as stylish without glorifying violence would it be as popular?

Movie studios know about something called the lowest common denominator. The more they can appeal to the animal inside everyone by making violence seem cool, the more money they will make. What is on that screen is there because someone wants us to see it. The formula is tried and true. But as technology has advanced the depictions of violence have become more and more life-like. No one would know the difference if the scene in Colorado was filmed and edited into their favorite violent action movie. Which part inside of us is attracted to watching this? I don’t think it’s the good part.

Across the country people were bringing 6-year-olds to midnight showings of The Dark Knight Rises to watch “massive explosions, kidnappings, neck breakings, shootings… death and mass destruction”. One of them lost their life. A lot more were injured, and not just in Colorado. And not just 6-year-olds.


My Own Way – Official Video

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverge in a wood, and I
Took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken”


This is not a song about being a rebel. It’s about celebrating the unique imprint given to us upon our creation instead of trying to change it to look like everyone else’s. If you follow the crowd, you’ll never leave any new footprints. That’s the vision we tried to capture in the video.


Are We More Than Animals?

A few weeks ago when my director and I were location scouting for the “My Own Way” video near Venice Beach, we were walking over a canal and saw a bunch of ducks – the kind with the green heads. A group of them were picking on one of the ducks that looked different. It was a dirty white color and didn’t have the green head. They would peck at the back of his neck repeatedly, pin him to the ground, and tear out his feathers. We tried to scare them away and get in between them and the injured duck, but they would keep circling around. The different one would try to half run/fly away, but the group of green heads would always get him cornered, and the pecking and beating would resume.

I was bothered by this not only because I like animals and hate seeing any of them suffer, but it also felt too much like I was watching people. Bullying, hate crimes, gangs, cliques, whatever. I got the same feeling watching the ducks as I get when I see video footage on the news of some crime done by humans. These are ducks with brains that can’t be more than an inch in diameter, yet if aliens were observing, would they be able to tell a difference in behavior between humans and ducks? Continue Reading…


One Life is not Enough

My TO-DO list grows faster than I can check things off. When I walk into a Barnes & Noble the wide-eyed excitement I feel inevitably gives way to a bit of desperate apprehension when I realize that I will never be able to read every book that I want to. I hate sleeping. Such a waste of time. I only do it because if I don’t I’ll be able to get even less done the next day. I have so many ideas. Things I want to do, to learn, to teach, to create. But I never have time for it all.

24 hours in a day…
I need about 100


I was thinking about good story tellers. My Grandpa comes to mind (doesn’t everyone’s?). I always find myself riveted when he tells stories about he and his brothers who served our country in the Navy in World War II. Such vivid details from an understandably unforgettable experience. I will never have the same experiences he did. I can only live one life – my own. But I like hearing about his.

Probably for the same reason that people love movies so much. You can step into a theater for 2 hours, and if the film is well done you lose yourself and come out feeling like you just lived through what the on-screen characters did. I think good music does the same. It makes us feel something. It can take us somewhere. In fact, the same song can take different people to different places. And if you want to go back, you can just play the song again. And who hasn’t lost themselves in a good book? I didn’t read The Hunger Games, but if I did it would’ve been because I wanted to have the experience of fighting for my life in a post-apocalyptic survival skills tournament.

I’m thankful for music. And for movies. And books. I’m thankful for people that tell me stories and let me live part of a life that I won’t get to live. Because for me at least, one life is not enough.

every minute every second
just submitting to the pressure
sitting here sifting through the wreckage
of another stupid checklist
my burdens provoking me
feels like time is choking me
a rope necklace, so relentless
get up out of bed then off to work
I wish I could stop this clock work
take a rock and smash those hands
make them ticks and tocks hurt
see what power the hour has
after I shatter the hourglass
the sand drops…
I stand and watch

– from “Never Enough” on The Meridian of Rhyme



To the Sky – Official Video

The first official video from the new album.


The Human Genome Project

If you are reading this you have computer and you like music, so chances are that you’ve heard of Pandora. If not, it’s a website/app that works like a radio station, only it does a really good job of playing music that you like. You just give it the name of one of your favorite artists and it does the rest, providing a constant stream of music catered to your personal musical tastes.

How does it work? Very meticulously actually, powered by something called the Music Genome Project. A bunch of musically trained people listen to every song accepted into the project and analyze it based on 400 musical characteristics with the goal of identifying specific “genes” that capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song. Pandora matches these genes with other songs with similar genes, and the result is a stream of music that you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy.

They recently added me as an artist and The Meridian of Rhyme went into the project. So of course I had to create a “Qwiet” station and see what other artists and songs they played alongside mine. There were some surprises and some artists that I’ve never heard of but do have things in common with, but I was happy that some of the artists I really respect came up, like Shad, Braille, and Lupe Fiasco to name a few.

And that got me thinking.

What if our lives were like one big album that we’re making? What if when we die a bunch of people highly trained in such matters analyze our greatest hits (and misses) and create a Pandora-style radio station based on the eternal identity that we’ve forged for ourselves? Which people’s songs would play on your station? Who’s station would you want your songs to be played on?

In other words, where will your life story fit in the Human Genome Project?


Rap to a Film Score?

I always get inspired by the musical scores in movies. One day I thought about what would happen if I tried to rap to one, so I reached out to talented composer Stephen Anderson, who created this loose cinematic interpretation of the hymn “Father in Heaven, We Do Believe” (see if you can pick out the melody if you’re familiar with it). Then I just put my headphones on, closed my eyes, and wrote what the music spoke to me. This is the result:



Teddy Bear Tossing

The mayhem of 25,000 teddy bears flying through the air + children at local hospitals receiving all of them = Beautiful Things.



The Meridian of Rhyme – Explained

Okay, many have asked, so an explanation of the album title is in order. Strictly speaking:

a) a point or period of highest development, greatest prosperity, or the like.
b) conveying the thought of a principal division of time or space.
a) identity in sound of some part, especially the end, of words or lines of verse.

The most significant time in the history of our world was the birth, life, and atonement of our savior Jesus Christ. Because of this and because we chronicle all events in history based on whether they occurred before or after it, true to the above definitions it is sometimes referred to as the Meridian of Time.

I’m pretty sure this album won’t cause the people in charge of deciding such things to redefine our method of delineating time. Nor do I think it’s the highest form of music in any way, and I certainly don’t expect it to bring prosperity. So what is The Meridian of Rhyme?

As you can tell from the artwork, there are obviously elements of division and contrast. Darkness and light. Good and evil. Pleasure and pain. Joy and sorrow. Night and day…

We all experience both sides, and we often find ourselves on the meridian. We can choose good or evil. We can choose gloom or illumination. We can find the bright side of our trials and tribulations or fall into the abyss of self-pity. We can be victims of the night or heroes of sunshine.

The Meridian of Rhyme is about change. Change for the better. Making some choice that from this time forward, I’m going to be better in some way.

Hopefully this music can turn something dark into something light for someone. Hopefully someone finds something beautiful from somewhere unexpected. Maybe from themselves. Hopefully a simple truth is realized. Hopefully someone learns something about the world and their place in it in a moment of reflection. Hopefully The Great Deception of the mainstream media machine is exposed in some way.

Hopefully someone finds a song they can put on to get them through a hard day, or a hard year. Hopefully someone finds a song that brings a smile, and maybe another that brings a tear. Hopefully a head nods. Hopefully someone can relate.

Hopefully someone can see themselves as the bright colors breaking out of the shadows, creating life they never thought possible. Hopefully someone is inspired to try a little harder, or run a little further, or hold on a little longer.

Hopefully it means things I never thought it would mean.

Hopefully it means something.

changing the world is breaking me
but breaking free is changing me
gotta keep moving forward
my people – moving for ’em
let’s see some new horizons… new forms rising

– from “Never Enough”